Australian Biography - Charles Perkins

Shot Vision Audio In Point
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Film Australia's Australian Biography series opening
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Fade up from black
Charles

Freeze-frame at end of sync dialogue
Super:
Charles Perkins
Born Alice Springs, 1936
Aboriginal ??

Dissolve to:

Charles sync: That's why I say to people, and they really annoy me, is when they say they're not going to have this black armband history carried into the future with us, like John Howard says and a few others. It's all right for them to forget about history because they've never had that, they don't have to worry about it, they can pick it up or leave it as they choose you know, but we had to live it you see, and you get started with all of that and you can't help but carrying some of that with you today and then possibly into the future, you know.

Music

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Archival. Northern Territory desert. Pan right to settlement beside Todd River

Charles v/o: Just about a mile north of the current Alice Springs. But the original Alice Springs, where I was born, and there is a spring in fact in the creek bed of the Todd River. Now it's called the Old Telegraph Station but before that we used to call it the Bungalow. It was

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Archival. Buildings at The Bungalow

a compound that was controlled and patrolled by the police

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Archival. Building in compound

and we all had to live in there and we weren't

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Archival. Building in compound

allowed to go out of there except on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning but we all had to be back by

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Photo. Charles as child. Zoom in to photo

sunset. I used to see my grandmother, you know, over there, she was full blood, Arrente woman. She used to come along and look at me, and she used to know who I was.

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Charles

Charles sync: But she wasn't allowed to pick me up or talk to me or hold me or anything, my grandmother, it was against the law.

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Photo. Charles' mother. Zoom in

Robin v/o: What was your mother like?

Charles v/o: My mother was in charge of the whole compound, in terms of the

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Charles

Charles sync: men and the girls, you know. She was a sort of, the real strong person and could keep the discipline amongst everybody.

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Photo. Charles' mother

Charles v/o: And she could fight. You know if anybody wanted a fight her, well she'd say right

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Charles

Charles sync: man or woman, she'd to strip off to the waist, get a nulla nulla and they'd get into it, men and women. She didn't care.

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Photo. Charles' mother. Slow zoom out.

Charles v/o: But she was a very principled person - never drank or smoked in her life. And never really, to my knowledge, never did anybody any harm. And she always said to me, well you know

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Charles

Charles sync: you got to always speak your mind, say what you think.

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Photo. Charles and brother as children. Zoom in to Charles

Robin : What contact did you have with white people?

Charles v/o: Well I used to always be frightened of white people. I'm still a bit frightened of them in a sense.

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Charles

Charles sync: They unsettle me sometimes, I don't know how to handle them. And because the white people used to come to the place. They were mainly government officials and they used to be dressed all in white.

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Photo. Charles' mother in apron, at aboriginal settlement

Charles v/o: White shirt, white shorts, white socks. And that was a standard dress.

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Charles

Charles sync: They used to think they looked magnificent. Well they did, they used to scare the daylights out of me.

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Archival. Hands counting out playing cards

Robin v/o: Were you very close to your mother, particularly close?

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Archival. Charles and his mother playing cards

Charles v/o: Yeah, yeah my mother and I were very close, yeah. Always on everything and that's why when I was

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Charles

Charles sync: taken down to Adelaide, to the boys' home down there, you know, I think she really felt that very much, you know.

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Tilt down large tree towards train in b/g.

Charles v/o: But she felt she wanted to give me an opportunity for another life you know, another situation. And so she denied herself,

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Charles' mother standing in desert

so as to help us get on the road much stronger and take opportunities she never had.

Robin v/o: What was it like for you

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Aboriginal kids looking out of train window

in Adelaide?

Charles v/o: Well, in any institution for any kid it's not very good, black or white. And you know,

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Charles

Charles sync: all my life I've lived in institutions, been brought up in institutions, so I'm not part of the Stolen Generation in terms of physically being wrenched from my mother's arms,

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Pan right to Children's Home in Adelaide

but the same thing, the principle is the same. My childhood,

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Children's Home in Adelaide

from the time I left Alice Springs

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Charles

Charles sync: 'til the time I was about 22, I hated every minute of it, and that was in the prime of my youth. I hated every minute of it.

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Photo. Charles as child, and group of choir boys. Zoom in to Charles

Charles v/o: The only consolation I had was the fellowship and the comfort of the boys in the home. But being chased down the street as a nigger when I didn't even know what a nigger was, to be

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Charles

Charles sync: never invited as I never was, to a birthday party of any of the kids in any of the schools, in primary school, in secondary school, as many of the other boys weren't invited, to never really have a girlfriend that would meet you in the daylight, talk to you in daylight, to be never invited to anybody's home ever,

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Photo. Charles with group of boys. Zoom in to Charles

Charles v/o: as a friend. At the end of it all, at about 15 and a half, or yeah about 15 years old, they put me out on the road with a suitcase.

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Charles

Charles sync: No money, nowhere to go and they told me to get. To get going down the road. And I said to the, this priest, I said "Well where do I go?" And he said "Well we don't want you here, you're too cheeky, too smart, you won't, you're too disobedient, we don't want you in the home, you're causing problems." And so I started walking down the road with my suitcase.

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Archival Railway station

Charles v/o: Very hard.

Robin v/o: By this time you'd left school and had a job.

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Archival. Tram

How did you decide what work to do when you left school?

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Archival. Semaphore tram stop

Charles v/o: Well the teacher at school told me, he said "Charles" he said "Charlie Perkins" he said

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Charles

Charles sync: "Come here I want to talk to you." He said "Look, you're pretty dumb," he said, "you're not very good at school, you're marks are very poor, because you haven't got much brains." This is the words he said to me. He said "You ought to do some trade" -- everybody was told to do a trade in those times of course. He said "But you won't be able to do some of the high level trades because you haven't got the intelligence for that" and I was going "yes, yes that's right, true" you know, I was agreeing with it all. I thought well he must know, he's a teacher.

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Archival. Sign. 'Apprentice's Training School'

Charles v/o: He said "We'll see if we can get you in as fitter and turner."

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Archival. Man grinding piece of steel

So, got me in as a fitter and turner. But

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Archival. Drilling steel

after a lot of hard bargaining. You know, like

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Charles

Charles sync: to get me in, and I hated every minute of that trade, that I was put in to. Every minute.

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Archival. Lathe turning a piece of steel

But I did it though, I did the whole five years. But when

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Archival. Milling steel

they turfed me out of that boys' home, it would have been in that

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Archival. Engineering workshop

first year of that apprenticeship, and I went to a place called Rosewater which is still in the Port. And there was a big boarding house there.

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Charles

Charles sync: So I went in there and the lady, a pretty rough lady, pretty rough boarding house,

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Archival. Boarding house in suburban street

they were mostly all drunks. And so she worked out to take three pounds out of my three pound ten shillings

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Archival. Sign on boarding house

a week, and so I had to cycle nearly seven miles

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Charles.

Charles sync: to work and cycle nearly seven miles back. And I hated to what I went to and I hated what I came back to. So what an enjoyable life!

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Archival. Chequered tiles on path leading to boarding house

Robin v/o: Some of your problems came from being Aboriginal and some were from poverty, which of course you shared with poor whites as well.

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Charles

Charles sync: Yes.

Robin v/o: Of these two, which hurt most?

Charles: I think they both hurt the same, one sort of was heaped upon the other.

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Archival. Washing hanging on line. Fast pan right to dwelling made of corrugated iron

You know, it's an indignity for anybody to live in poverty stricken circumstances.

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Archival. Aboriginal woman sitting outside dwelling

And you know, at that time you had to carry a passbook with your photograph on and your fingerprints and two

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Charles

Charles sync: recommendations, one from a policeman, and one from priest, to say you can walk the streets. That's not South Africa, this is Australia.

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Photo. Charles on board ship with two young men. Slow zoom in

Robin v/o: Despite all this you'd become a soccer star and you even went to England to play with clubs there. Did this improve your game?

Charles v/o: Oh, yes.

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Charles

Charles sync: I learnt a lot. How to play the game, how to really dictate the play as well.

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Photo. Detail. Team photo, Charles in soccer uniform. Zoom out to rest of team

Charles v/o: How to sort of control the play and how to be the hard man of the game.

Robin v/o: Not long after you came back to Australia you got married.

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Charles

How did you meet your wife?

Charles sync: Well, it was at a soccer dance you see.

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Photo. Young Charles and his wife in restaurant

Charles v/o: And so we just met and we started talking and I thought well, she seems pretty nice, you know different to the other ones, and doesn't mind me at all. And so

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Photo. Young Charles and wife sitting on brick wall

we sort of cottoned on from there, you know.

Robin Hughes: What did her parents think of it when you wanted to marry her?

Charles v/o: Oh, no problems,

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Charles

you know, I never had any problems with the family at all.

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Photo. Zoom out Charles and Eileen's wedding photo

Robin v/o: What did your mother think of you marrying a white girl?

Charles: Oh she didn't want me to marry a white girl. She didn't think it was a good idea. She didn't really trust too many white people, you know,

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Charles

Charles sync: and so but I said "Oh no this girl's all right," so I brought her up to meet Eileen, and she liked Eileen.

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Photo. Detail of previous, wedding photo. Charles, pan left to Eileen

Charles v/o: She knew Eileen wasn't really, you know, like the other Australian girls.

Robin v/o: With Eileen's encouragement

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Archival. Sydney University. Zoom out to EWS

you decided to go to university. Why did you choose Sydney?

Charles Perkins v/o: The best. Sydney was the best. All the white people in Australia said Sydney's the best. But first of all

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Archival. Charles studying

I had to get my matriculation. I worked six o'clock in the morning

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Archival. Charles studying

'til 11 o'clock at night for a whole year.

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Charles

Charles sync: And during that time I played soccer, so soccer -- being fit

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Photo. Charles playing soccer

Charles v/o: it really complements your study. Makes you study better, you know. And then

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Archival. Newspaper article 'Perkins' Plan'

during the breaks, Eileen used to work wherever she could

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Archival. Charles playing soccer

find part time work to keep me going.

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Archival. Newspaper article about Charles' soccer career

But I played soccer to win because

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Archival. Charles tackling player

we had no other money come in really.

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Archival. Charles playing soccer

And if we didn't win, we had no, not much money

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Archival. Charles playing soccer

to buy food.

Robin v/o: That period that you

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Archival. Magazine article. Headline: 'Soccer's Mr. Unique'

were studying so hard, it required

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Charles

enormous personal discipline. Where do you think that discipline came from?

Charles sync: From my mother. Strength came from my mother yeah. And from the, and from the hatred of the system and from the -- not the hatred so much -- but the burning resentment against white people you know. I don't have that today, but I had it then. You know, it was a flame that kept burning away in me you know. You've got to do it, you've got to get in there and you've got to succeed. You've got to -- otherwise you know these things will go on forever and you've got to get your education so you can say certain things, you can do certain things. And people will listen. And you know, you can get organised yourself and you can organise others.

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Archival. Side of 'Freedom Ride' bus

Robin v/o: And while you were still a student, you were an organiser of the Freedom Ride through the towns

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Archival. Student activists carrying banner

of rural New South Wales. What was the main purpose of the freedom ride?

Charles v/o: The whole

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Archival. Police in country town

Freedom Ride was not so much for the white people.

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Archival. Charles addressing activists

My deeper objective was for Aboriginal

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Charles

Charles sync: people to realise, hey listen, second class is not good enough, you know. You don't have to always be first class, but don't always be second class. And don't cop shit, you know, when you don't have to.

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Archival. View from car of poor Aboriginal settlement

Charles v/o: And you don't want to have to live on river banks and in shanty huts and at the end of a road where there's rubbish tips. Live in town. You don't have to have cockies, white men sneaking around pinching Aboriginal women at night, you know.

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Charles

Charles sync: Sitting down the front of picture theatres, not being able to sit in a restaurant, because nobody will allow you as an Aborigine to sit in a restaurant. That's not on.

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Archival. Charles with Freedom Riders

Charles v/o: And you know, and the timing was right.

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Archival. Group entering hall

If I didn't do it, somebody else would have done it.

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Archival. Charles with activists

And other people have done it in a different way. They've said

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Photo. Charles' graduation photo

the same thing.

Robin v/o: You were the first Aboriginal to graduate from the university, and your first job was to run

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Archival. Sydney street. Bus drives past camera. Pan round to Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs

the New South Wales Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs. What did you do there?

Charles v/o: Whatever I wanted to make it.

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Archival. Woman inside foundation typing. Pan round to manager's office door

Nobody knew what we should do. It was all new ground we were treading. Here was a foundation for Aboriginal affairs to

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Charles

Charles sync: help the Aboriginal people meet their needs and wants. What wants? What needs? Obvious ones of education, employment and housing and health and you know, and all of that.

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Archival. Charles and group in meeting

We didn't do as good a job as we could have, should have done, because we didn't have the money, or didn't have the personnel.

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Archival. Charles addressing crowd

Charles: At the present time we have six different policies concerning Aborigines

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Archival. Aboriginal man standing next to Salvation Army member

here in Australia. Nobody knows where they're going. The blind

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Archival. National Aborigines' Day address

are leading the blind...

Charles v/o: We continually

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Archival. Aboriginal kids

lobbied federal and state politicians as best we could. And

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Archival. Charles addressing meeting

I continually spoke to Rotary Clubs

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Archival. Women listening to Charles

and all the rest of them, all round the countryside and I

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Charles in TV studio. Zoom out to EWS

was on numerous television programs and radio programs all the time. Not really being as articulate as I would want to be, but

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Charles

Charles sync: you know just saying things about Aboriginal rights and some of the principles that we thought were important that people should think about.

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Archival Charles walking into building

Robin v/o: When you moved to Canberra in 1969 to work for these things on the national

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Photo. Charles on phone. Slow zoom in.

scene a Liberal government was in power. What did the arrival of the Whitlam government in 1972 mean for aboriginal affairs?

Charles: v/o Well, you know,

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Charles

Charles sync: Gough was a, Whitlam was a breath of fresh air, not only in Aboriginal Affairs but for the whole of Australia. And you know, what he did was to establish the Department of Aboriginal Affairs you know as per the referendum

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Archival. Aboriginal meeting

which enabled him to do that. But it opened a

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Archival. Gough Whitlam at land rights ceremony with Aboriginal man

Charles v/o: Pandora's Box. You know, everything started to happen then. The new responsibilities and new relations with, with the States, new, a new and exciting and energetic

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Charles

Charles sync: relationship with Aboriginal people. So that really sort of released the lid on all that suppressed energy.

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Archival. Charles addressing group in Canberra. Police standing behind.

Robin v/o: Did you get into trouble with the Canberra bureaucracy at all?

Charles v/o: Oh, I was always in trouble. I was in trouble every week for one thing or another, speaking out,

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Charles

Charles sync: not talking to people in the right way, refusing to write letters that I thought were not correct, being aggressive and perhaps insulting to certain people who I thought were racist or stupid or both, politicians as well as bureaucrats.

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Photo. Charles with three other men. Zoom in to Charles

Charles v/o: And, but it was very difficult for me because you, you're caught between two trees really. You sort of, you know, you like to have a job, you like to have the security and you like to be good in your job and do the things you want to do and focus in on it,

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Charles

Charles sync: but with an Aboriginal, certainly with myself, and I can only speak for myself, I had to do all of that. But then I had to speak out as well which caused complications in your job.

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Photo. Charles with another man. Zoom in to Charles

Charles v/o: Because I felt there was a need to. You just couldn't sit back and watch people dying all around you or suffering all around you while you had a job as

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Charles

Charles sync: a bureaucrat, you know, in Canberra where you had a nice house, you know, bitumen roads, clean water coming through the taps and other people had nothing of that and they were your own people. So you had to speak out and that, that was my problem, it's been my problem all my life.

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Photo. Charles with Aboriginal man

Robin v/o: And during this time you were also quite ill weren't you with the loss of both your kidneys. How did you manage to keep on working while on a kidney machine?

Charles v/o: Those kidney machines at that time,

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Charles

Charles sync: it was ten hours, three times a week and you, my wife was taught to put the needle into me.

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Photo. Charles on dialysis machine. One of his daughters sits beside him

Charles v/o: I've had thousands of needles in my arm here and that's why while I was on the machine, I said, nobody is going to get over the top of me. Nothing is going to worry me.

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Charles

Charles sync: I'm frightened of no bastard, no governments, no politicians, nothing. And I'll go straight in, if I've got to say what's going to be said, I'll say it, come hell or high water,

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Photo. Charles

Charles v/o: without considering the cost.

Robin v/o: And as soon as you'd had a kidney transplant you went back to Canberra , got stuck into it and soon after you were suspended.

Charles v/o: Yeah, I was suspended

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Charles sync: a lot of times but and, you know, I always accepted that that's part and parcel of what I do, but on this occasion it hurt a bit because I was, I had three children

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Newspaper article. Headline: 'Perkins may face charges: Senator'

Charles v/o: and all I did was call the Western Australian Government

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Newspaper headline: 'Perkins: I won't back down'

at that time racist and red-necked.

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Newspaper article. Headline: 'Court seeks strong action on Perkins'

He suspended me for a year without pay

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Photo. Charles with his children

and I got in my car and drove to Alice Springs with my three children. But

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Charles

Charles sync: on that occasion when we started we started the Land Rights movement in Alice Springs. I think it was meant to be.

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Photo. Charles at head of land rights march carrying banner. Zoom in to Charles

Robin v/o: And it was in order to work on the Northern Territory Land Rights Act with the Fraser government that you ca e back to Canberra in 1976 . What did you think of Malcolm Fraser?

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Archival. Malcolm Fraser

Charles v/o: I though oh, what a dour, sullen person he looks,

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Charles

Charles sync: but then I found out on Aboriginal Affairs he was absolutely A-1, he was tops. He was the best of them all on Aboriginal Affairs. And Gough is good but you know the problem with Gough, he, sometimes he thinks he started everything and you know, it didn't, he didn't. Fraser

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Photo. Charles shaking hands with Fraser at function

Charles v/o: -- you know he lost his patience with me as well you know, because I spoke out often when he asked me not to.

Robin v/o: During those years in Canberra

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Archival. Charles walking into MLC Tower building in Canberra. Tilt up to top of building

through the seventies and eighties you were involved in setting up various organisations to give Aborigines some control of their own affairs. What was the thinking behind that?

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Archival. Charles in office with secretary

Charles v/o: One of the things that Aboriginal people never had is the experience in You know and one running organisations or conducting

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Archival. Charles in his office. Zoom in as Charles sits behind desk

economic affairs or in terms of purchases of properties and things like that or houses and so on. And what we had to do was to give Aboriginal people the opportunity for that. It's quite true that you can't buy experience like

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Charles

Charles sync: you can corn flakes in Woolworth's, you got to go and live it. And people didn't understand that too much, Aboriginal people have to live the experience to be able to then make the best decisions

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Archival. Charles with others at board table

Charles v/o: in the most difficult of circumstances. And that's what empowerment is, that's what control of Aboriginal Affairs is all about.

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Archival. Charles at board table

And you know that's what the ADC,

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Archival. Aboriginal man at meeting

the Aboriginal Development Commission was all about,

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Charles

Charles sync: that's what we thought the Aboriginal, Department of Aboriginal Affairs and all these other organisations we established, like legal services, the medical services, they were all an expression of that.

Robin v/o: When the Hawke government came in

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Photo. Charles with Bob Hawke and Clyde Holding

Clyde Holding made you head of department and you and he worked very hard on land rights didn't you?

Charles v/o: Oh, land rights

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Charles

Charles sync: is a big issue - defended that all the time, and one particular thing that was a great disaster for Clyde and I and a lot other people, we wanted national land rights legislation. And that was I think probably the great disaster that any government ever brought upon us. We should have had that at that time, I can't remember the exact date,

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Photo Charles in meeting

Charles v/o: It would have solved all of this problem of Native Title, the Wik, the pastoral question, the mining.

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Photo. Charles and Holding with group of young Aboriginal men

It would have solved all of that today, we'd have none of this if we'd had national land rights legislation.

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Photo. Detail of previous. Charles and Clyde Holding

Robin v/o: Why do you think that some Aborigines

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Photo. Charles at microphone. Aboriginal man stands behind him. Zoom in to Charles

were among the opponents of that legislation?

Charles v/o: I think the thing was a little bit too far in front for them, and I think that's part of the problem.

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Charles

Charles sync: You know we sort of raced ahead and did -- national land rights legislation will be the best thing because it will cement all the States in to have the same standards of relationship between Aboriginal people, the land, and the general community.

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Photo. Charles with group of Aboriginal men in desert. Zoom in to Charles

Charles v/o: But see, they didn't - feel that, most Aboriginal people didn't understand that, it's a bit different, you know. And so I felt really bad about it, I felt well, you know,

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Charles

Charles sync: it was a disaster, and it's, it's something that you know, will live in the memory for ever.

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Archival. Charles and Holding at function

Robin v/o: You had a change of Minister, when Clyde Holding went,

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Archival. Gerry Hand carrying bag towards news reporters

and Gerry Hand was appointed. How did you get on with Gerry Hand?

Charles v/o: Oh,

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Charles

Charles sync: him and I, our relationship was an absolute disaster from the beginning.

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Archival. Canberra. Fast zoom to office tower

Charles v/o: But he had this little gang around him, and they're very strong with him even now today. But

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Office building directory. Tilt up to Aboriginal Affairs sign

I blame them for the failure, largely of Aboriginal affairs going off the track, and us losing

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Archival. Charles in department

the Department of

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Archival. Department workers

Aboriginal Affairs. We should never

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Charles

Charles sync: have lost the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the Department of State - whether I was there or not was irrelevant. We should never have lost that, because that is - a straight entrée into the Cabinet office, and cabinet decisions. And relationship on a formal basis with other departments. You can't - that's a powerful position, and people can't ignore you. Now ATSIC, and the elimination of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, marginalised Aboriginal Affairs. They don't have to take any notice of them. And so that's the pity of it all, the concept's good, but be careful how you do it, and they didn't, they just went ahead and did it because they thought they knew it all.

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Archival. Gerry Hand at press doorstop

Charles v/o: And he didn't want me at all. And this other group around him, they were there

00:22:33
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Charles

Charles v/o: as his lieutenants to undermine me to do different things. And Aborigines, other Aborigines told me, "Look you - they're stalking you, brother." And I said, "Well, whatever will be, will be, it'll come," and I should have - I should have resigned then.

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153

Photo. Charles at his desk. Zoom in to ECU

Robin v/o: In the event a number of intensive inquiries were conducted into you and the department and you were effectively sacked while they took place . What were you accused of?

Charles v/o: Well, I was accused of numbers of things, you know, that I was

00:22:51
154

Charles

Charles sync: too powerful, on too many committees, which is probably true, and you know, that - no problem, I - could have gone off those anyhow. Then the other is that - it was other things which had no basis in fact.

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155

Archival. Charles looking down with hand to his head

Charles v/o: And after all of the inquiries they made,

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156

Archival. Charles at inquiry hearing

they called mismanagement on the part of Charles Perkins, was

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157

Archival. Man at inquiry

- what was it? And they quoted in

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158

Charles

Charles sync: parliament, one page of one letter, out of two million files, was missing. Why? Where is it?

00:23:33
159

Archival. Inquiry hearing

Charles v/o: That was mismanagement. And then the other thing was, they were trying to find where

00:23:43
160

Archival. Charles at hearing

I'd stolen things. I've never stolen a penny in my life. I'm never a thief, I never steal anything,

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161

Charles

Charles sync: from anybody. My mother always told me, "Put a penny on the table", she said. "If you steal a penny, you'll steal a pound, and you're a thief." I've always remembered that, and I never taken money off anybody.

00:23:52
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Photo. Charles at press conference

Charles v/o: The whole episode, it just went on and it just, it was just a big scandal in Australia's political, social history.

Robin v/o: But Charlie, what was going on inside you through all of this, I mean how were you coping?

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Charles

Charles sync: It was the most shameful time of my life. I mean my whole family was subjected to the great shame, that we've stolen money, we've abused the system, we've been cronying, we're paternalistic.

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Photo. Charles. Zoom out to show rest of family

Charles v/o: And they just tore our family up, but we stuck together through all of this, and it just nearly broke our hearts because, you know, I

00:24:28
165

Charles

Charles sync: I used to walk down the streets, and people used to think I was a thief.

00:24:37
166

Photo. Charles standing beside Aboriginal painting

Robin v/o: Even though you were exonerated you didn't go back to the department did you? What did you do?

Charles v/o: I went back to Alice,

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167

Photo. Charles with Aboriginal man and Bob Katter. Zoom in to Charles

to re-establish myself, to get my confidence back, my dignity back, back to my own country. But you know, the culture

00:24:49
168

Photo. Charles sitting on beach

was all round me, and I became initiated at that time, and went through it. It took me a couple of years, but I went through the ceremony.

00:24:57
169

Charles

Charles sync: And a lot of Aboriginal people don't do that, and that's a bit late in life. That is a difficult exercise. I won't talk about that, because I'm not allowed to. But I'm an initiated man of the Arrente people.

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170

Photo. Charles with Aboriginal man and woman

Charles v/o: And I found that it gave me that strength, that I never use anywhere else, but it just gives me

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171

Photo. Charles with two Aboriginal men

the right focus and I know exactly what I'm doing, and what I'm going

Robin v/o: What about

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172

Charles

Robin v/o: It has no meaning for you at all?

Charles sync: Never has had. Never. Nobody ever impressed it upon me. If somebody had ever impressed it upon me, or brought it to my notice, I would have taken notice and done something about it, but nobody ever said. See, all my life, I've just been an Aboriginal. That's why sometimes people hurt you when they say, "Oh, you jumped on the bandwagon." Well, I said, "The bloody bandwagon's always been here", I said, you know, I mean, "I've been travelling in that bandwagon since I was born." So - but the other thing is they say, "Well, you don't look like an Aboriginal, or you don't speak like it, you don't dress like an Aboriginal." Well, I said, "Well, what is an Aboriginal supposed to look like? Are we all supposed to be running round in lap-laps, with a boomerang over - in one hand and a kangaroo over the shoulder?" I said, "Aborigines can take many forms,

00:25:26
173

Photo. Charles with Aboriginal man on a boat. Zoom in to Charles

Charles v/o: you know." But the white side of my family which I don't know anything about, I think it's the Perkinses from Broken Hill

00:26:15
174

Charles

Charles sync: and my father come from another side, you see, my father comes from Kalkadoon people. He's a Kalkadoon man from north-west Queensland.

00:26:22
175

Photo. Charles' father

Charles v/o: And he left us standing on the table when we was two or three years old. Never saw him again, till just before he died.

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176

Charles

Charles sync: Never even knew he existed till I was 35.

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177

Detail of previous photo. Charles' father

Then the white side of him is Irish, culminating in me being what I am,

00:26:39
178

Charles

Charles sync: and I'm not sort of ashamed of any of that, that's the way it is. And then my wife, you know, being of German ancestry,

00:26:45
179

Photo. Charles and family

Charles v/o: and what are my kids, you know, great mixture, but that's the beauty of Australia. That's what will make Australia great,

00:26:53
180

Charles

fade to black

Charles sync: the merging of all these cultures, all these nationalities and races, you know, into something that's truly uniquely Australian.

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Fade up from black. Credit sequence over photo of Charles and daughter.

Credits roll
Interviewer
ROBIN HUGHES

Editor
KIM MOODIE

Directors of Photography
ERIKA ADDIS
PAUL REE

Sound Recordist
GRAHAM WYSE

00:27:08
182

Production Manager
JEANNINE BAKER

Sound Post Production
MICHAEL GISSING
DIGITAL CITY STUDIOS

Online Editor
ROEN DAVIS
VISUALEYES

Production Supervisor
IAN ADKINS

00:27:28
183

Production Accountant
FIONA WHITE

Research
JEANNINE BAKER
BRIGID PHELAN

Archival Sources
ABC FOOTAGE SALES
CANBERRA TIMES
CITY PICTURES
PERKINS FAMILY
JIM SPIGELMAN

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Produced and Directed by
ROBIN HUGHES

Executive Producers
MARK HAMLYN
MEGAN McMURCHY

Made in association with SBS TV

Dissolve to:

00:27:47
185

Film Australia National Interest Program logo

Fade to black

00:27:54
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